Uncut Editor's Diary

Rage Against The Machine, Crowded House and Happy Mondays return to day three of Coachella

Allan Jones

Stumbling onto site today someone told me that it was 107 degrees yesterday but it’s only 105 today. So that’s alright then. What’s that sound, floating across the polo grounds? Lush, harmonised, laid back, Californian… yes, it must be The Feeling from, er, Lowestoft or wherever the heck. Anyway, they do Buggles’ ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’ as I order my first beer of the day so it can’t all be bad.
Who’s mooching? Cameron Diaz, Tommy Lee, Paris Hilton and Courtney Love (day three girl, what on earth took you so long?). No sign of my new mate Danny so I head over to check out Grizzly Bear in the smallest tent here, the Gobi. The Bear are, I guess, post rock. Which means they’re the band Thom Yorke and Michael Stipe would like to be in if they didn’t have bills to pay. It also means they’re incapable of playing a song straight without a) swapping instruments; b) pretending to swop genders and c). whistling and so forth. In equal parts intriguing and bloody annoying, they are the dahlings of the Pitchfork set and blogging here for Rolling Stone. I’ll put a tenner on it that the Mulv likes them so we’ll no doubt say hello to them at an All Tomorrow’s Party quite soon and I’ll move right along if you don’t mind because The Kooks are in the Mojave tent next door and girls are actually screaming at them.
Hmmm. It’s all about shirt removal apparently so let’s take a shufty at Explosions In The Sky all the way from Texas. What they’re doing on the main stage is anyone’s guess but they’re quiet-loud-quiet-LOUD, with no vocals, just like Mogwai but not as good.
Ne’er mind, refill beer and let’s follow the jettrash across to the Mojave again where CSS are playing. And the party starts…here. Singer Lovefoxx strips down to her catsuit after only one number and noo rave rools. I think she’s got spectacles painted on her face but, whatever, she’s totally boombastic. They even do a cover of L7’s ‘Pretend That We’re Dead’, that they attribute, strangely, to Daft Punk. No matter, this is joyous, the very idiot dancing stuff that all the best festivals are made of. The facts? They’re from Brazil but they sound not unlike The B52’s so there’s nothing here to be scared of.
Duty calls so let’s troop over to the Outdoor Stage where the Kaiser Chiefs are trying super hard to convince America that they’re any good. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone work so hard as Ricky Wilson – he bellows, he climbs the lighting rig, he encourages clapalongs and singalongs, he crowd surfs. But sadly to no avail. All the huffing and puffing looks a bit desperate to be honest and, let’s face it, ‘Everything Is Average Nowadays’ is hardly ‘Modern Life Is Rubbish’, ‘The Angry Mob’ goes down like a lead balloon and even ‘I Predict A Riot’ fails to ignite. Sometimes it takes something more than honest to goodness effort. Just ask the newly reformed Crowded House who are boring the pants off a fairly meagre mass in front of the main stage. No charisma, no presence, no good.
Nor was my fact checking over the last couple of days. Please forgive me and put it down to the jetlag/heat/beers. Anyway, of course I meant to put ‘Dani California’ instead of ‘Californication’ in the Chili’s set. It was still shit though.
The Klaxons totally got it going on. Party monsters par excellence they pack the Mojave and put in the performance of the day, the crowd – without as many glowsticks as usual – sweat it up batting about a blow-up dolphin and whoo-whooing along to ‘Golden Skans’ and ‘Atlantis To Interzone’ while over on the main stage Manu Chao put in one of those righteous reggae jam performances that really shouldn’t work but, at festivals, they always seem to. This is the dude who was responsible for ‘King Of The Bongo’, the best (only good) track on Robbie Williams’ ‘Rudebox’. And who did backing vocals on that? None other than Lily Allen and, oh look, here she is, back at the Mojave (we don’t just throw this stuff together you know!).
Greeted like a homecoming queen, she’s dazzling in white and well overawed by the size and response of the crowd that is most made up of gals who sing better than she does and know every word. Which is more than can be said of Lily who fluffs song after song (“Why do I keep forgetting me fuckin’ words? I’m not drunk or doing anything bad but I’ve had a couple of spliffs today and…”). It’s all giggles and smiles and the more she messes up, the more the crowd cheer. They even cheer when she admits the cardinal sin she’s never heard of Rage Against The Machine. She’s a charmer and can do no wrong. My father in law doesn’t trust anyone who doesn’t like football. I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t like Lily. What’s not to like?
Well, the reformed Happy Mondays for one thing. Introduced to a pretty threadbare audience of older geezers in the Sahara Tent by Anthony Wilson who delivered a rather needless historical lecture on the merging of black and white music, the Mondays looked and sounded just what they are – washed up and looking for a(nother) last pay day. I told you Bez was banned so it’s all down to Shaun who spends most of this sorry set moaning. After ‘Kinky Afro’ even he admitted it was shit. “I think I’ll have to stand up here and tell jokes for half an hour,” he growled. They did some new stuff. It was grim. Sad. Sad. Sad.
Final slot is the reformed Rage Against The Machine, which brings the fest full circle as they headlined the very first Coachella (which I was actually at). Whatever the motivation for this get together, they are treated as local heroes by the enormous crowd and it is a fitting end as we all struggle off to find our dust-covered cars miles away that they close with ‘Killing In The Name Of’, Coachella vibrating fit to bring on an earthquake as we all roar the chorus: “Fuck you, I won’t do what tell me!”
You have a nice day now.
Steve Sutherland.


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